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Press Release

Lauren Ward

For immediate release:
July 21, 2003

Carnegie Mellon University Names Irene Fonseca Mellon College of Science Professor of Mathematics

PITTSBURGH—Irene Fonseca, director of the Center for Nonlinear Analysis (CNA) at Carnegie Mellon University, has been named the first Mellon College of Science Professor of Mathematics.

"Irene is a valuable asset to Carnegie Mellon," states Mark Kamlet, provost for the university. "Her international affiliations help put Carnegie Mellon on the map."

The CNA, the university's center for research and scientific training in applied mathematics, collaborates internationally with other university-based teams in conducting research and in training students and postdoctoral fellows. Moreover, the CNA is one of the few centers in the United States that receives significant federal funding for research in applied mathematics.

Fonseca's research is centered on the calculus of variations, geometric measure theory and partial differential equations. It is motivated, in part, by the study of properties of novel man-made materials and by issues in imaging. Her ability to introduce and apply new mathematical techniques to the materials sciences complements her work as director of the CNA.

"She repeatedly puts the department at the forefront of significant activity in applied mathematics," states Roy Nicolaides, head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

"Irene has a talent for identifying potential leaders in applied mathematics. Many of those whom she selects for the CNA postdoctoral program go on to become famous in their own right."

Fonseca also is dedicated to promoting mathematical studies beyond the undergraduate years. She seeks to help undergraduates understand the many opportunities afforded to them by pursuing graduate study and research in mathematics. In addition, her efforts in forming affiliations with other institutions provide graduate and postdoctoral students the maximum amount of opportunities to collaborate and network on an international level.

Fonseca has collaborated with several colleagues both in the US and overseas in publishing her research. Her most recent book, "Modern Methods in the Calculus of Variations with Applications to Nonlinear Continuum Physics," to be published by Springer-Verlag, is written in collaboration with colleague Giovanni Leoni, associate professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon. It highlights research done jointly by the authors, and it unifies and compiles contemporary developments in nonlinear analysis and the calculus of variations as this work applies to thin structures and micromagnetics.

Fonseca received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She arrived at Carnegie Mellon in 1987 as a visiting faculty member and became full professor in 1989. In 1997 Fonseca was bestowed knighthood in the Military Order of St. James (Grande Oficial da Ordem Militar de Sant'Iago da Espada) by the president of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio. This Order is generally reserved for accomplishments in cultural fields. In Fonseca's case, the award also recognized her contributions to scientific progress in the European Union.

The Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon University maintains innovative research and educational programs in biological sciences, chemistry, physics, mathematics and several interdisciplinary areas. For more information, visit


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